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Decadent coffee cinnamon rolls slathered in coffee cream cheese frosting are the perfect complement to your morning cup of coffee.
If you’re in the market for a not-so-average cinnamon roll… Ohh, my friend, you have come to the right place. And I am so glad you’re here!
I have long been an advocate for savory breakfasts: my make ahead breakfast casserole is one of the most frequented breakfasts in this house, we love to make quiches (either crustless, in a crust, or in a cauliflower crust), and of course, a couple straight up eggs is my favorite post workout meal.
Though I do often whip up a baked apple oatmeal to have for quick breakfasts, I typically fall into the camp of eggs and meat.
Except in the form of a cinnamon roll, and what cinnamon roll turned me this way most effectively was the sourdough cinnamon rolls I made this past summer.
Those were something, let me tell you.
And because it’s hard for me to just bring you a staple (though hello, simple chocolate cupcakes, yellow layer cake, white layer cake, vanilla bean cupcakes, and red velvet cupcakes, to name a few), classic cinnamon rolls were not on the menu for my blog this month.
Instead… Coffee rolls, otherwise known as coffee cinnamon rolls.
Because, guys… You are absolutely going to want these.
I will preface this by saying if you are not a coffee fan, you probably didn’t find yourself here in the first place, but these coffee rolls may not be for you.
While they are first and foremost a cinnamon roll, the coffee is the star of the show. They are full of strong, bitter coffee flavor, which is an incredible complement to the soft dough, spicy cinnamon, and creamy cream cheese frosting (which is also flavored with coffee).
So let’s talk about each of the components of these coffee cinnamon buns so you know what we’re working with here.
It’s simple, it’s easy, it makes just 6 coffee rolls, and it’s not too sweet.
To give the dough a solid coffee flavor to stand on, we’re using instant coffee granules or instant coffee grounds to give us the coffee flavor.
Typically, I give substitutes for instant coffee granules in case you don’t want to make an extra trip for them, but honestly, they’re pretty crucial to the filling and the frosting (we’ll get to them).
You’ll dissolve the instant coffee granules right into the warm milk that goes into the dough, which gives the soft, supple yeast dough a slightly bitter coffee tang. By itself, I worried it was a little too savory, but alas, I persisted with the other components.
To my classic cinnamon roll filling, I added more instant coffee granules. I debated leaving out the cinnamon and just making the filling straight coffee, but keeping the ground cinnamon as a major flavor in the overall taste was a great choice.
The filling is sweetened with white and brown sugar, made spreadable with butter, and the sweetness is offset by just a touch of salt.
The bitterness of the cinnamon is a wonderful complement to the bitterness of the coffee, and when put up against the sweetness of the sugars, these two parts of the taste spectrum come together to create a really robust and flavorful coffee cinnamon roll filling.
I added, of course, some instant coffee granules to this cream cheese frosting as well to not only flavor the frosting, but to create that gorgeous aesthetic of speckled frosting.
Frankly, I was blown away by how good these coffee rolls were and how much I enjoyed the bitterness of the bold coffee flavor.
I had a total of 7 taste testers including myself (and a teenager and an older toddler!), and the consensus was that they were amazingly good.
Not too sweet, certainly not boring in any sense of the word, and a really fun way to jazz up traditional cinnamon rolls.
If I had to change one thing, I’d just wish I had made more, but honestly, I’d turn into a coffee roll in a hurry. Two (in one day– oops!) were plenty for me!!
Go ahead and give your morning/weekend/whenever cinnamon rolls a coffee twist– if you’re even a smidge of a coffee lover, I know you won’t regret it.
COFFEE ROLL DOUGH
- ¼ cup (60mL) warm water
- 1 and ⅛ teaspoons (4g) dry active yeast or half of one packet
- ¼ cup (60mL) warm milk
- 1 and ½ Tablespoons instant coffee granules
- 2 and ½ Tablespoons (31g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 and ½ to 2 and ¾ cups (300-330g) all purpose flour be sure to measure properly
- 3 Tablespoons (43g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature and cut into 4-6 pieces
COFFEE CINNAMON FILLING
- 2 Tablespoons (29g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (50g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 and ½ Tablespoons instant coffee granules
- ½ Tablespoon ground cinnamon
COFFEE CREAM CHEESE COFFEE FROSTING
- 2 ounces (56g) cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup (90g) powdered sugar
- 1 and ½ teaspoons instant coffee granules
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons (15-30mL) liquid for thinning1 optional
COFFEE ROLL DOUGH
- Spray a baking dish (I like an 8" cake pan or pie plate) with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Place warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Stir around with a fork or spoon and allow to rest and activate for 10 minutes.
- Pour the warm milk into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the instant coffee granules, and allow to dissolve. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla extract and stir with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Add the egg and the yeast mixture and mix again until everything is combined.
- Gradually stir in flour. If using a stand mixer, use your dough hook. If mixing by hand, continue to use a wooden spoon or spatula. Add 2 cups of flour, allow dough to come together, then add the softened butter and continue to blend.
- When butter is mostly incorporated, add the remaining ½ cup of flour and blend until dough has completely come together. If the dough is still too sticky, add flour one Tablespoon at a time, not exceeding 2 and ¾ cup total of flour. When the dough is ready, it should easily pull away from the sides of your bowl and dough hook or spoon.
- Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Your dough should feel like PlayDoh to the touch and “snap” when you pull it apart. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
COFFEE CINNAMON FILLING
- In a medium size bowl, combine the butter, sugars, coffee granules, and cinnamon. Stir with a spatula until mostly combined– some larger chunks of butter are ok. Set aside.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle 9" x 12" in size. Dough will be very elastic, so be patient and keep rolling. Using a spatula, spread the filling evenly over the dough, all the way to the edges of the rectangle on all four sides.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE DOUGH
- Starting with one of the short sides, roll the dough up into a tight 12" log. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log into 6 even slices. Place the slices cut side down in the prepared pan (one in the center with five around it), then cover loosely with foil or a kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 and ½ hours.
- When roll dough has risen, preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Bake the rolls for 30-35 minutes or until rolls just start to brown on top. You can cover the rolls with foil to prevent browning, if desired. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes while you prepare the cream cheese frosting.
COFFEE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth.
- Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the powdered sugar. Add the coffee granules and salt and continue mixing until smooth.
- Spread cream cheese frosting onto slightly cooled rolls and serve rolls immediately. Leftover rolls stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for 8-10 seconds before serving.
- To thin frosting: you can use water, milk/cream, or coffee if you want your frosting to be thinner.
- Make ahead: this dough can be made the ahead of time through step 1 of the “assemble and bake dough” instructions. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise in a warm environment, about 1 hour. Continue with step 2 in the “assemble and bake dough” instructions.
- To freeze: baked rolls freeze well, up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm before enjoying.
- To freeze unbaked rolls: bake the rolls in step 2 in “assemble and bake dough” instructions for 10 minutes at 350°F (177ºC). Allow to cool completely, cover tightly, then freeze. Remove the rolls from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Finish baking for the remaining 20-25 minutes before frosting and serving.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.